We stopped at a tiny hamlet called Kotan near the southern end of Lake Kussharo in the centre of Eastern Hokkaido. This is a natural open air hot springs at the edge of the lake with a man-made hot spa, males to the right, females to the left and a line of rocks in the middle. Instructions on a board nearby warn against excessive divestment of clothes. But this is not how it used to be. I saw a historic photograph nearby that showed a mixed group of naked people soaking in an undivided pool, probably in the 1920s.
You might be thinking “it’s not a very large body of water to be called a lake” but that’s not it. Most of the lake is covered in ice and it goes right across to the distant mountains.
Of course, the water at the side of the lake is warm because of the hot springs and that’s why the swans are there.
I went for a short walk beside the lake and in places struggled through quite deep snow. I took all the images in this thread with my pocket camera, a Fujifilm X100.
Back near the bus, I found this ancient house that doubled as a local museum and a shop for hand-carved souvenirs. Inside was the wood carver, a charming gentleman who spoke good English. I bought a small carved owl to take home. You can see a couple of wooden owls at the peak of the roof.